War grave renovation at Sleepyhillock

20110216- Tending the War Graves at Sleepy Hillock Cemetery. 'Stewart Furay and Graham Hobbs tend the war graves. ''"Andy Thompson Photography",'"No use without payment",'"Tel: 07795437362" ,'"www.atimages.com" ,

20110216- Tending the War Graves at Sleepy Hillock Cemetery. 'Stewart Furay and Graham Hobbs tend the war graves. ''"Andy Thompson Photography",'"No use without payment",'"Tel: 07795437362" ,'"www.atimages.com" ,

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THE FINAL resting places of more than 130 servicemen were restored at Sleepyhillock Cemetery last week by staff from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and Angus Council.

Herbaceous borders were replanted and turf replaced on and around the 132 graves at the start of a week-long maintenance programme.

The £2,500 project was carried out as part of routine care provided by the commission at more than 23,000 sites around the world, with 12,000 in the UK alone.

Ranald Leask from the commission said that although remembrance of the war dead comes in to sharp focus every Armistice Day, the act of remembrance continues year-round.

He said: “This is typical of the type of work the commission undertakes and we have a team of works personnel travelling round Scotland identifying what needs done and where.

“We often have relatives travelling thousands of miles to see the graves, some from Canada and the dominions, and there’s worldwide interest in the graves here.

“If someone has made the effort to come along and see that a grave is not as good as it can be, it’s something we bear in mind and we make sure the standard is as high as possible. From our point of view, though, this is not a criticism of the work that’s been done by Angus Council and it’s very much a partnership with them and is typical across the UK.

“For the commission the emphasis is on remembrance 365 days a year and the importance for relatives making that personal journey, as well as being reflective of the more general need to remember those men and women who died in such huge numbers in both world wars.”

Among the graves tended were those of 22-year-old pilot James Menzies, from Alberta, Canada, and navigator David Edwards (21) who died in 1944 when their RAF Liberator crashed at the Hill of Wirren, around 16 miles north of Montrose.

They had been travelling from RAF Leuchars with nine other crewmen to conduct a U-boat patrol over the seas around Cape Wrath, around 350 miles north.

The Liberator flew into thick cloud and a malfunctioning compass led the crew off course to crash into the hillside. The casualties were taken by firefighters and local first-aiders to Stracathro Hospital but Flying Officers Edwards and Menzies died from their injuries.

Most of the casualties buried at Sleepyhillock served in the air forces, both British and Commonwealth, but army and naval casualties are also buried there. Of those, 39 graves date from the First World War, with almost 100 from the Second World War. Of the Second World War casualties, 85 are British or Commonwealth, with eight Polish graves.